In most countries national economic and social policies influence the formulation of policies for fisheries and aquaculture. Public strategies adopted for development are thus guided by policy objectives which may range from food security to higher incomes or may focus on employment, conservation, the rational use of environmental resources, or on an increase in foreign exchange earnings.
Historically, public strategies for fisheries management relied on centralised, public-funded, fisheries administrations to be implemented. These administrations would assume a range of different functions, including the formulation and enforcement of regulations, undertaking scientific research on which to base decisions on levels of harvesting, and allocating and administering regulations that were formulated. But, fishery administrations in many poor, developing countries often still do not have the means to effectively manage their fisheries. Thus, the need for innovative strategies, involving a greater participation by stakeholders, is increasingly being recognised.
Direct payments by the fisheries sector for management services in a few developed countries has led to closer scrutiny of the services offered by fisheries authorities, with a view to reducing them to those that are considered to properly be within the public domain, such as Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) and quality control. The fisheries administrations of many of the poorest developing countries are not able to execute effectively the tasks they were established to undertake because they do not have the means to do so. The development and maintenance of skill levels of personnel in fisheries administrations through training is an essential element in achieving sustainable fisheries development.